The War Between the States…..and the Federal Government

On the occasion of the 150th Anniversary of the start of the Civil War it would behoove us as a nation to look back at the political climate at the time and what led to the bloodiest conflict in our history. The Civil War was one of those defining moments in our history that come along every so often. The chances we now live in one of those times is damn near certain. The Civil War , once and for all insured that our nation would survive and the concept of E pluribus unum would prevail. The war cost the lives of over 600,000 soldiers, and countless others maimed, but it preserved our Union and removed the scourge of slavery from our nation. The war also cost the life of one of our greatest presidents, at the time of his death, despite all the horrors of the last four years, he was reaching out to our former enemies and admonishing people to rise above the urge for retribution. To reach out to our fellow Americans and work together to heal the wounds, for this, he was murdered.

But why did our country suddenly go postal 150 years ago? What led to that first shot at Fort Sumter? Today some are claiming the war wasn’t about slavery but it was a states rights issue. For at least two decades prior to the outbreak of war our nation fought many battles in D.C. What did they fight over so viciously? The issue fought over for decades in our Congress was slavery, and the expansion of the practice into newly opened territories to the west. The Missouri Compromise was one of these efforts to “solve” the problem of slavery in the United States. There were clear dividing lines between the two sides.

In the North, the newly emerging industrial technologies were revolutionizing the way things were done, here and around the world. Now we had machines to do most of the tedious work formally requiring large numbers of people….i.e. Slaves. The South was a completely different animal, they failed to adopt many of the emerging technologies available to reduce labor needs, and many of the true labor-saving devices had not yet been invented or if they had, they weren’t in wide use. The result of all of this was a reliance on large numbers of laborers to work the fields..i.e. Slaves. Though both sides differed on their view of slavery, there was a tacit acceptance of the status quo. The trouble began when the discussion turned to what to do with newly opened territories/states. That’s when the shit began to gather in anticipation of hitting a future fan.

So yes, the Civil War was about States Rights, but that’s not the entire story. The state right being fought over was….Slavery and the continuation of that practice westward. Despite people who claim otherwise, the underlying cause of the Civil War was the issue of slavery in the United States, not states rights.

Fast forward to today’s political battles. The battles are being framed as clueless or malicious, depending on which side of the aisle you’re on. But today the battle truly is a states rights issue. The concept of states rights does not give the states the power to contravene the U.S. Constitution, i.e.  the practice of slavery. States rights do give states the right to not do what the Federal Government tells them to do if it contravenes the same U.S. Constitution i.e. Obamacare. I’m not claiming we are headed for another civil war, but the similarities between the way the positions are being framed and distances between them are striking.

We don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem.  We can’t be everything to everybody, we just don’t have the money. At some point people need to step up and take care of themselves.The American people know this instinctively, the sooner the people we hired to take care of this do THEIR jobs , the better off this country will be.

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1 Comment

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One response to “The War Between the States…..and the Federal Government

  1. Mummsy

    The States’ Rights to the slave-holding states was the right to own slaves…. their goal was to have the whole country a slave-holding country. Slavery was the backbone of southern economy: the growing, harvesting and marketing of “King Cotton”. American cotton was prized in Europe and in the North, and it made the slave-holders very rich.

    There are few people I’d like to meet when/if I get to heaven, and one of them is Abraham Lincoln. I’ve read a lot of his history by many authors, and to a person, the writers have elevated him nearly to the state of sainthood. He grew with his presidency; he read about military plans, and was intimately involved in the prosecution of the war. Although he did not start out to be an emancipator, he rose to the occasion and became through his own efforts, tender heart, and wise mind, released hundreds of people from bondage. It would have been interesting to see how different the lives of African-Americans would have been had he lived.

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